Large Increase in Chartered Engineer Registrations
    By Richard King | February 14th 2011 05:36 AM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    In 2010 there was an impressive increase in the number of Chartered Engineer registrations with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, my own Institution, leading the way.

    The number of Chartered Engineers registered last year was 26% more than in 2009 and 1,135 of those were through the IMechE, the highest number of all the Institutions.

    A surprising statistic was that the average age of engineers achieving Chartered status was 36. Engineering at that level requires experience and maturity in addition to a high level of academic achievement, these days reckoned to take eight to ten years in total but taking to ones mid-thirties to achieve that seemed a little high.

    The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Birdcage Walk, London (from “Professional Engineering”)
    The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Birdcage Walk, Lond (from "Professional Engineering")

    I gained my Chartered status in the mid 1970s at the age of 30, having gone to university three years later than I, perhaps, should have done, after gaining my Higher National Diploma. Admittedly the academic requirements for a Chartered Engineer are now, broadly, at Masters Degree level, though my First Degree course at Brunel University was of four years duration anyway and I gained a Masters a several years later.

    The Engineering Council also recorded an even larger increase in registrations as Incorporated Engineers, a 64% increase over those registering in 2009, with the Engineering Technician registrations being much more modest at 12%.

    The figures represent a second year of growth for CEng and IEng registrations with the EngTechs having done so for a sixth consecutive year.

    Given the need for growth in manufacturing output and engineering generally in the U.K. that is a very encouraging sign, the problem remaining being the will of the Government and the Country in general, to make worthwhile use of such developments. Massive damage was done to manufacturing in the 1980s with over reliance on the service industries, particularly the now discredited banking industry. With manufacturing being brought back from abroad, for closer control, among other things, hopefully, at least some of the damage will be reversed.

    I read, recently, that in the Political Party Manifestos for the U.K. General Election in May 2010 that the word “science” was mentioned twenty-four times and “engineering” only four times and that was in relation to STEM, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programme. That, probably, most likely, fits with the general misapprehensions about engineering, what it is and what it does.

    In recent decades engineering has, at long last, started to reassert itself to some degree, particularly in terms of developments in the philosophy of engineering, in confirming that it is not just applied science. In fact, quite apart from engineering being an a art rather than a science, much of what engineers do is deeply unscientific, at least in terms of the type of science that most of science’s most vociferous proponents expound these days.

    Source “Professional Engineering”


    I'm afraid the headline figures from the Engineering Council over egg the situation. The numbers of new chartered engineers in 2010 was 4717 in 2006 it was 5563, so all we are seeing is a slight regression to the mean. The total numbers of registered engineers is decreasing!.
    In terms of incorporated engineers, this as well is at an all time low and the rate of decline is increasing, for example, the total numbers of IEngs is nearly 5% lower this year when compared to the previous year (rate of decline the year before that was about 3.5%).
    Also one has to bear in mind the role overseas registrants play in the new registration numbers, as they make up over 20% of the register.

    Richard King
    You write anonymously and quote figures but not a source, so there not really way to follow them up.

    It seemed reasonable to take "Professional Engineering", the Journal of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers as a reliable source.
    What does it really mean in today's world anyway?   A P.E. behind a name does not mean better prospects or even better knowledge.  There are certainly more engineers today and that is what counts.
    Richard King
    As the world depends so heavily on engineering and technology it seems reasonable to feel some reassurance in suitably qualified people in sufficient numbers being available.

    A P.E. behind a name does not mean better prospects or even better knowledge.

    I do not know what the prospects for Professional Engineers are in your Country, only what the prospects for Chartered Engineers are for in my Country. I wrote the blog as an Englishman aware of what is going on in the U.K.

    As far as I am concerned Chartered Engineers do have better knowledge, that is the one of the primary reasons for the qualification structure. No-one becomes a Chartered Engineer except by gaining suitably high academic qualifications, combined with relevant experience and the acceptance of their peers. Given that lives depend on engineers, that seems a sensible process.

    I am not of your Country but, among the few things I have learned, so far, is that Professional Engineers are registered State by State.

    From reading extensively on the philosophy of engineering, including the writing of many Americans, particularly Professors Carl Mitcham and Billy Vaughn Koen, there appears to be a different tradition in that the U.S.A. is a relatively young Country, has, essentially, grown over a similar time span to modern western science and, therefore, has tended to view engineering more as applied science.

    The European view, tradition and approach is somewhat different, regarding engineering as more art that uses science, thought that fits with Mitcham and Koen anyway, in that the former writes of the ABET requirements for Professional Engineers being well under 20% science and Koen writes of science being part of engineering and as fallible as the other approaches, heuristics, used; if you have any different views you would be better taking it up with them; both have specialised in the philosophy of engineering and technology for the past forty to fifty years.

    The art approach to engineering in the “Old World” dates from antiquity through the time of the Roman architect Vitruvius, to the present day; for Roman architect, read present day engineer; the architects of today are even more art and, as a civil engineering colleague once said, the architects come up with the ideas, often strange ones, the looks, and leave the engineers find a way of achieving their “dream”.

    In Europe, Ing in from of someone’s name counts at least as much as MD after a person’s name; in both cases academic achievement, combined with personal and group professional experience is required for the qualification and safeguarding of the public.

    Unfortunately, in the U.K. the title engineer is far too widely and commonly used, despite this Country having produced the like of Christopher Wren, James Watt, Thomas Telford, George Stephenson, I.K. Brunel, Joseph Bazalgette, Paul Dirac (engineer first, then physicist, mathematician), Frank Whittle, Barnes Wallis, et al.

    There was a hiccup in the 1950s, 1960s, when “engineering science” was more prominent; a legacy of the Second World War and thinking immediately afterwards; views west of the Atlantic had more influence east of the Atlantic than the older traditions, though the latter now seem to be coming back; hence the considerable, if belated, interest in the philosophy of engineering shown by the Royal Academy of Engineering, particularly from the 1990s. Engineering is not just applied science, far from it, and there as been a reassertion of the difference over the last few decades. Engineering depends heavily on tradition and experience, particularly were the science is insufficient, though engineers regularly go past the strict science anyway. Even “engineering science” is only a small part of what we do.

    In a way it would be fascinating for us engineers to be restricted to that which was strictly scientifically provable, particularly in the “evidence based” RCT sense, though it would also be a disaster; the world as we know it would stop.

    I was writing from that standpoint, an English Chartered Engineer, living in the U.K., with Europe just across the English Channel. I would not presume to speak for Professional Engineers in the U.S.A., other than on a purely fellow engineer basis with, hopefully, the difference between our Countries and traditions in mind. Similarly, I would expect an American engineer to try to bear in mind the difference in the U.K. and Europe situation.
    As far as I am concerned Chartered Engineers do have better knowledge, that is the one of the primary reasons for the qualification structure. No-one becomes a Chartered Engineer except by gaining suitably high academic qualifications, combined with relevant experience and the acceptance of their peers. 
    Engineering is a field where a Master's degree makes little difference (and a Ph.D. even less) so the actual benefit to society from PE or CEng is nonexistent.   Will an engineer with a BS and 12 years experience be less qualified than an engineer with a Master's degree?  Only if we contend journalists should have a Master's degree also.    In modern times it seems like an artificial barrier because outside that, you just need to be nominated by other engineers.    There is no actual idea if the engineer is good or not.

    Of the 5 professions (engineering, law medicine, education and the military) engineering benefits least from an artificial standard, though I agree in the past it certainly had value.   
    Richard King
    If I have read that right engineers supposed to be on a professional par with journalists. I would have no problems reading anything written by an engineer but would go nowhere near an aircraft design by a journalist; have fun if you ever go on one.

    It is fairly well acknowledged that there is not a great deal to be gained, career wise, in engineering by obtaining a PhD, at least not unless the career path is principally academic. I almost did at the end of the 1980s by registering on the basis of research I had done at British Aerospace and Marconi Space systems on design allowable properties for composite materials; on of my supervisors said I was 75% of the way there at the time of registration but I had to let it go because of a forced career move. However, the general run of requirements in the U.K. is a Masters Degree, or equivalent, plus the extras.

    I hope to go back to research in the not too distant future, though I have the book to get out first, partly because that is the route. I have concluded that the engineering method is the more powerful method, certainly in certain areas of endeavour, and have discussed researching that.

    I ran into several anonymous people on P.Z. Myers blog a few weeks ago; I agreed with Myers comment on science as well as his caveat and found you cannot add extra caveats, though I really knew that anyway; they are so predictable. Among the numerous comments was one from an anonymous biologist, though virtually all of the others were anonymous as well. I happened to mentioned that I had done a reasonable amount of psychology as it was compulsory for engineers. The biologist was adamant they did not do biology their degree so why should an engineer. (Our biology lecturer, for the first year was Dr Phillips; tall blond and, I believe, American; different ones second and third year.)

    I met a fellow engineer. Lucy Rogers, at a business breakfast at Fasset, in Havant, last Tuesday. There seem to have been some changes as she had not been so involved on the psychology side at university as I had been. Obviously there is a difference between Brunel University in the years 1967-1971 and the University of Lancaster in the early 1990s, though she does have a Doctorate even if she is not too forthcoming, on her website, as to the subject in which it was awarded.

    Either way, it looks as if you, along with an anonymous biologist and, perhaps, others, know more about my profession than I do, or my fellow engineers do. I guess there is not a lot we can do about that, certainly not in the short term.
    If I have read that right engineers supposed to be on a professional par with journalists. I would have no problems reading anything written by an engineer but would go nowhere near an aircraft design by a journalist; have fun if you ever go on one.
    No, like journalists or musicians, engineers benefit more from doing work than sitting in college for advanced degress.   Thus I think a Master's degree to be a CEng is nothing but an artificial barrier since we both know plenty of engineers who have a Bachelor's Degree and yet are some of the savviest in the world when it comes to understanding how things work.

    I also would not fly in an airplane designed by any sort of engineer with a PhD if I knew they had done nothing but CAD and FEA work in college yet had a PhD.  Nor would you. 
    The figures I quote are the Engineering Council's own figures. They publish annual statistical reports which, as a registered engineer, you can have access to.